Operas featuring Shakespeare‘s most famous star-crossed lovers are prominent on local stages this year with an ecstatically received Gounod revival at the Met followed this month by Teatro Nuovo’s revival of Bellini‘s I Capuleti e i Montecchi in its first NYC performance in years.

Chris’s Cache follows up its Gounod R&J installment with a widely varied quintet of additional Romeos and Juliets: Capuleti pairing Adriana Maliponte and Agnes Baltsa; Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Matthew Polenzani, and Julian Robbins performing Berlioz‘s dramatic symphony; Zandonai‘s rare Giulietta e Romeo; A Village Romeo and Juliet by Delius; and Antonio Pappano conducting Nadine Sierra and Alek Schrader in Bernstein‘s West Side Story.

We’re fortunate to have the Capuleti preserved as it was Maliponte’s only performance of the opera in Vienna. Inexplicably, Bellini’s opera has yet to be given by the Met, but it has been mounted by New York City Opera and was a favorite of local concert opera organizations, the American Opera Society and Opera Orchestra of New York.

James Levine came late to loving Hunt Lieberson in The Great Gatsby, but he used her in Boston in today’s Berlioz as well as in the Mahler Third of which I also have a broadcast. The year before Levine’s BSO Roméo, I heard a particularly memorable performance of Berlioz, also with Polenzani, at the New York Philharmonic with Lorin Maazel conducting a superb José van Dam as Frère Laurent. Not content with Prokofiev‘s magnificent Romeo, the Paris Opéra ballet invited Sasha Waltz to choreograph the Berlioz which I saw at the Bastille in 2007.

Romeo’s aria “Giulietta! Son io!” from the Zandonai is sometimes programmed by tenors, but otherwise Giulietta isn’t often done, nor is the Delius, though New York City Opera performed it seven times between 1973 and 1975 in a production by Frank Corsaro.

Bernstein’s own misbegotten recording of West Side Story suggested that opera singers might not be the best casting idea for Maria and Tony, but Pappano’s pair make a better case for it. Notice future Carmen Aigul Akhmetshina in a small supporting role.

An additional Capuleti with Cecilia Gasdia and Tatiana Troyanos can still be enjoyed here, as can Ann Hallenberg and Franco Fagioli in Zingarelli‘s Giulietta e Romeo.

Bellini: I Capuleti e i Montecchi

Giulietta: Adriana Maliponte
Romeo: Agnes Baltsa
Tebaldo: Yordi Ramiro
Capellio: Kurt Rydl
Lorenzo: Peter Wimberger

Conductor: Piero Bellugi
Vienna Staatsoper
27 May 1982
In-house Recording

Berlioz: Roméo et Juliette

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson
Matthew Polenzani
Frère Laurent: Julien Robbins

Tanglewood Festival Chorus
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: James Levine

Symphony Hall, Boston
4 December 2004

Zandonai: Giulietta e Romeo

Giulietta: Edy Amedeo
Romeo: Ferrando Ferrari
Gregorio/Il Cantatore: Mario Carlin
Banditore/Sansone/Bernabo: Giovanni Foiani
Tebaldo: Guido Mazzini

Groot Omroepkoor
Conductor: Fulvio Vernizzi
AVRO Hilversum

Delius: A Village Romeo and Juliet

Vrenchen: Joan Rodgers
Sali: Timothy Robinson
Dark Fiddler: William Shimell
Manz: Stephen Roberts
Marti: Nathaniel Webster

Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Münchner Rundfunkorchester
Conductor: Vernon Handley
München, Philharmonie im Gasteig
15 February 2004

Bernstein: West Side Story

Maria: Nadine Sierra
Anita: Tia Architto
Rosalia: Aigul Akhmetshina
Consuelo: Francesca Calò
Francisca: Marta Vulpi
Tony: Alek Shrader
Riff: Mark Stone
Bernardo: Andrea D’Amelio
Action: Andrea Giovannini
Baby John/A-rab/Snowboy/Big Deal/Diesel: Kris Belligh

Orchestra e Coro dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Conductor: Antonio Pappano
Parco della Musica, Rome
12 October 2018

Anyone can download these romantic recordings by clicking on the icon of a cloud with an arrow pointing downward on the audio player above and the resulting mp3 file will appear in your download directory.

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Photo: Musacchio – Ianniello – Pasqualini